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Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

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Different kinds of fungus furnish very sensitive solutions. When aqueous solutions become muddy by decomposition, other clear and often highly sensitive liquids may be obtained from them by various chemical processes. Port and sherry are decidedly sensitive. In such cases the fluid is a mixture of several substances, of which some may be sensitive and others insensible. When vegetable substances are isolated they are frequently insensible, or else so very slightly sensitive when examined under great concentration of the highly refrangible rays, that it is quite impossible to say whether the sensibility thus exhibited may not be due to some impurity: thus, several solutions containing sugar, salicine, morphine, or strychnine were found to be insensible. A solution of veratrine in alcohol proved to be sensitive in a pretty high degree, dispersing internally a bluish light. Sir David Brewster has remarked that a solution of sulphate of strychnine in alcohol dispersed light after it had stood for some days. This observation I have verified with reference to true dispersion, which the solution exhibits, though not very copiously, after it has been made some time. There can be little doubt that the sensitive principle in this case is not strychnine, but some product of its decomposition. I now come to some instances of internal dispersion which are far more striking.
Solution of Leaf-Green in Alcohol.
47. It was in this very remarkable fluid that the phenomenon of internal dispersion was first discovered by Sir David Brewster, while engaged in researches relating to absorption. The character of the internal dispersion of a solution of leaf-green is no less remarkable than the character of its absorption. On account of the close connexion which seems to exist between the two phenomena, it will be requisite first to say a few words about the latter.
When green leaves are treated with alcohol, a fluid is obtained which is of a beautiful emerald-green in moderate thicknesses, but red in great thicknesses, and which has a very remarkable effect on the spectrum. A good number of the following observations on the internal dispersion of leaf-green were made with a solution obtained from the leaves of the common nettle, by first boiling them in water and then treating them with cold alcohol, the
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